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A fortified wine - similar in style to its cousins Port and Sherry. There are four distinct types, named after the grapes from which they are made, these range from very dry to rich and sweet.
1. Sercial: very dry, this is generally pale in colour, and should be drunk lightly chilled as an aperitif.
2.Verdelho: sweeter than Sercial, but still on the dry side. Excellent with Madeira cake.
3. Bual: sweeter and a darker colour, use a dessert wine.
4. Malmsey: another dessert wine, and made with the Malvoisie grape.
There are other blends which are often found - Rainwater: medium dry, and pale in colour. Southside: medium sweet.
You might also come across the term Caneiro, this is a wine that has matured in the heat of the sun.